The whole world is currently affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is causing a slowdown in world trade, disruption in global supply chains and changing tourism flows (The impact of trade-disrupting COVID-19 on South African business, 2020). As a result of this pandemic a lot of things have to be done differently. This leads us to the following hypothesis:
Covid-19 will have a negative impact on the eight business functions of the SASOL petrol station in South Africa.
This paper is about an analysis into how the eight business functions of the selected petrol station (SASOL) will be impacted by Covid-19 pandemic. The research will deal mostly with factors that affect the eight business functions and how organisations such as the one being investigated is dealing with the situation under Covid-19.
The eight business functions that will be investigated are the following:
Purchasing, Production, Human Capital, Finance, Marketing, Public Relations, Administration and General Management.
The aim of the research is prove or disprove the hypothesis as stated. Also, to gather information and data that will help in coming to a conclusive result which will either confirm or oppose the hypothesis “Covid-19 will have a negative impact on the eight business functions of the SASOL petrol station in South Africa.”
Context and Discussion
Due to this pandemic many countries have decided to put their general population under lockdown. In the lockdown status, people are supposed to stay at their respective homes and only leave their residences when it is extremely necessary, such as buying groceries or getting medication or any other essential service.
Covid-19 has and is currently changing the way things are done in the world. The “normal” that we used to know has changed, it’s no longer business as usual. In conducting the research, we will be focusing mainly on the effect and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business functions on SASOL petrol station business.
The results or outcomes of the research will give a better understanding of how businesses and petrol station businesses in particular can adjust or survive during a pandemic. The scope for the research is therefore limited to petrol station business (SASOL) in South Africa.
In conducting a research, one can use either of the two approaches, i.e. Qualitative or Quantitative. Qualitative approach is based on words and used to understand concepts, thoughts or experiences. This type of research enables you to gather in-depth insights on topics that are not well understood.
The Quantitative approach is expressed in numbers and graphs. It is used to test or confirm theories and assumptions. It is used to establish generalizable facts about a topic.
One of the major differences between Qualitative and Quantitative methods is that in extracting data qualitative method uses open ended questions, data is expressed in words and requires few respondents. Quantitative on the other hand extract data which is mainly expressed in numbers, graphs and tables, requires many respondents and the questions are rigid as in multiple choice questions. (Qualitative vs Quantitative Research, 2020)
The best approach for this research will be the qualitative method mainly because of the nature of the investigation since we will be focusing on a small sample, one petrol station. We will use interviews, business documents and the business website in collecting data from the petrol station.
Evidence of Research
Data was collected from the SASOL petrol station on Sefako Makgatho Street near Kollonade Shopping Centre in Montana. I spoke to the manager on duty Siphiwe Masango, who gladly assisted me in answering the interview questions. The respondents didn’t have to write their answers to the questions posed but were asked to speak to a recording device. The corresponding answers were therefore transcribed to the outlined Table 1 below.
- Has the buying of stock including fuel been affected in any way before and after pandemic?
- Has production increased or decreased before and after lockdown?
- How many employees did you have before the pandemic started and how many employees do you have now?
- In terms of percentages, how much revenue did you receive before and after lockdown?
- Has the marketing done better or not before and after the lockdown?
- How has the organisation related with the public before and after lockdown?
- What has the administration looked like before and after lockdown?
- How has the general management of the petrol station been affected before and after lockdown?
- Are there any other changes that have occurred between before and after lockdown?
Business Function Before Pandemic After Pandemic
Purchasing Fuel and Shop stock too much in need and we were buying almost every week to keep up. Fuel purchasing has gone drastically down since most people are at home not using their vehicles. Most of them are working from home and there is no need for travelling. We are currently buying at 65% of what we used to before lockdown.
Food production in the express shop was going well. Demand from consumers has always been high. Production is 0% since food production is not allowed during lockdown. Profit has been lost.
We usually had 30 employees in our normal operations. We had to let go of a lot of employees due to lack of activity. Currently we only have 12 employees.
Our revenue and profit margins were very high. Our revenue has dropped to about 60% of what we used to gain.
We marketed our products easily by pamphlets, using our employees to upsell, posters, banners and social media. We cannot use the normal marketing strategies that we used before lockdown as customers are not coming to the station in numbers and our reach in terms of marketing has been narrowed.
The petrol station used to engage and interact with the public via social media, radio advertisements and television commercials. This hasn’t changed as we continue to do them.
Normal business administration continued every day. Administration hasn’t changed much considering that the petrol station still has to be managed, books have to be balanced, employees must clock etc. However the amount of admin work had decreased because of low activity.
General Management duties have always been in demand for this kind of business Almost all management functions has subsided due to low operational activity in the business.
Analysis and Discussion
There are several methods that are available for analysing data. Since I used interviews to collect data, I decided to use the Narrative Analysis method.
Narrative analysis method can be described as a method used to analyse content from various sources, such as interviews, observations from the field, or even surveys. It is an approach that focuses on using the stories and experiences that are shared by people to answer the research questions. (Bhatia and Bhatia, 2020)
The approach to asking questions was based on trying to extract the view or sense as to whether Covid-19 has affected the business and if so how and to what extent. Questions were covering all eight business functions as per discussion topic and I specifically wanted answers as they perceived how things were before pandemic and after.
We can safely state that the collected data is credible because it’s derived from the manager who is responsible for the running of the business. I believe that his responses are truthful because for him it was a platform to voice his concerns and also create awareness of the devastating effects resulting from Covid-19. He also indicated that he would like to get a copy of my final report as it can guide and help him to align and adjust his business to survive and to continue making profit. I don’t have any doubt that his responses are genuine.
Most of the responses are clearly pointing to the fact that things are definitely different from how they were before the disease hit our shores. The purchasing, marketing, administration and general management have all drastically decreased as per responses I received. Clearly, business is no longer as good as it used to be before Covid-19. Production and Human Capital are central to the day to day running of the business. These two functions have deteriorated to such an extent that even the total revenue / turnover of the business which is the finances have been affected. This also means profit have been dented to the point that the business had to shed some of its employees. Public Relations is the least affected business function as most of the tasks and activities associated with it are still in force. Social media, radio ads and television commercials are ongoing even though no value is derived from them due to the lockdown.
Based on the responses and the analysis, the outcome clearly indicates to us that all business functions have been negatively affected by Covid-19.
In trying to research the effect of the Covid-19 on the eight business functions of SASOL petrol station in South Africa, we firstly outlined the business functions, which are: Purchasing, Production, Human Capital, Finance, Marketing, Public Relations, Administration and General Management.
The Qualitative Method or approach for the research was adopted in line with the expected type of research and data collection.
Thereafter, planning was conducted. This involved deciding on how to extract data from the petrol station and interviews were conducted. The corresponding responses were transcribed for analysis.
The data as analysed has proven the hypothesis “Covid-19 will have a negative impact on the eight business functions of the SASOL petrol station in South Africa“.
The following are limitations that pertains to this research which can be explored further in future:
it would have been better if data was collected from at least five SASOL petrol stations. In that way the results would bring a broader perspective and more data for easy generalisation.
Risk of exposure to Covid-19
Government regulations requires all of us to stay indoors and not expose ourselves to the virus. As a result, I could not visit more SASOL petrol stations to get a bigger sample.
Data Collection Process
As part of data collection, I also wanted to confirm what was said by the interviewee through the business documents. I was not allowed to view the documents.
Covid-19 is changing all aspects of our lives and business is no exception. Business will no longer be the same. Petrol station business has been affected negatively and it might take a very long time to recover.
Self-reflectionI learned a lot of skills from doing this project. I’ve learned how to collect, organise data and how to piece it to make one cohesive presentable document. Other important skills that I’ve acquired are writing skills, research slls and document structuring. It gave me insight on how our economy is doing during this pandemic.
I underestimated the amount of time it would take to do this assignment. I learned a lot about time management as I was working through this task.
- Meyer, E. and Strydom, Z., 2020. Business Studies Grade 10 Learner’s Book. Horizon: Consumo Publishers.
Scribbr. 2020. Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research | Differences & Methods. Available at: https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/qualitative-quantitative-research/.
- PwC. 2020. The Impact Of Trade-Disrupting COVID-19 On South African Business. https://www.pwc.co.za/en/publications/impact-of-trade-disrupting-covid-19-on-sa-business.html.
- Bhatia, M. and Bhatia, M., 2020. Your Guide To Qualitative And Quantitative Data Analysis Methods – Atlan | Humans Of Data. https://humansofdata.atlan.com/2018/09/qualitative-quantitative-data-analysis-methods/.